We are now half way through the 15 days of Chinese New Year celebrations. Fireworks are still lighting up the sky at night, shops are still closed and dumplings are still being eaten. Jiao zi are China’s answer to Italy’s ravioli or Poland’s pierogi. A thin flour and water skin surrounds a juicy meat or veg filling, often flavoured with onion, ginger, sesame and salt. They can be boiled or fried and are traditionally served with a soy sauce and vinegar dipping sauce. In the north of China, it is customary to eat jiao zi during Chinese New Year, which is also known as Spring Festival.
I fell in love with Chinese food when my family and I moved to Beijing back in 2007. Nothing like the greasy noodle dishes and sticky meats served at Chinese restaurants in the UK, Chinese cuisine is extremely varied, packed with veg and features many light dishes such as these jiao zi. The dumplings are quite fiddly to make until you get the hang of things, but persevere – they are well worth the effort.
125g plain flour
300g prawns (uncooked)
10 strands chive, chopped
1/4 red chilli pepper
1” knob fresh ginger
2tbsp rice wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lime
1tbsp fish sauce/light soy sauce
splash dark soy sauce
Ginger dipping sauce:
2” knob fresh ginger
1tbsp light soy sauce
2tbsp rice wine/dry sherry
1tsp sesame oil
For the dipping sauce:
- Mix together all dipping sauce ingredients and gently heat for a few minutes in a small saucepan, then set aside
For the skins:
- Combined all ingredients until they form a dough and form into a 2” log
For the filling:
- Place all filling ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well combined
- Cut 1cm slices from the dough log and form into a ball between your palms
- The skins need to be rolled out individually – gently flatten each ball with your palm and then, using a small rolling pin, roll from the outside into the centre, turning the skin as you do so until it is 1mm thin, with the centre slightly thicker than the edge
- To fill, hold each skin in your palm and place a rounded tsp on the filling in the centre
- Fold the skin gently in half and press the edges together firmly from the outer sides to the middle, making a crinkled effect
- Place each dumpling onto a well floured surface before cooking
- Boil a pan of water and place the dumplings in once boiled
- Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the skins turn slightle translucent, but still feel firm to the touch – be careful not to overcook or they will break open between your chopsticks when you eat them!
- Serve piping hot with the dipping sauce
*These dumplings can also be pan fried: heat 1-2tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet until smoking hot, then place the dumplings bottom side down in the pan for 1-2 minutes until golden brown – next add a splash of water and cover the skillet with a lid to allow the dumplings to steam for 3-4 minutes – uncover the lid to allow any excess water to evaporate before serving.
**To freeze dumplings, spread out on a tray covered in greaseproof paper to avoid them sticking together – once frozen, you can put them all together in a bag or container. Freeze uncooked!